Sir Steven Redgrave: Playing on the river

In the plethora of NBC Olympic coverage we have recorded on the DVR, I came across this gem. It is an interview with Mary Carillo and Sir Steven Redgrave. Redgrave is considered to be one of the greatest British athletes of all time, and should be included in conversations of greatest Olympians of all time, with five gold medals in five consecutive Olympics (1984-2000). He is not a swimmer, cyclist, nor runner, but a rower. Still, Olympic Champions across all sports have a lot in common, and his words really resonate with me as I look ahead to “the next challenge.”

Every now and again you sort of look back and think, “God, how did I achieve what I achieved of winning the Olympics five times over without missing one?” But at the time it was all about the next challenge. “Are you going to give up or carry on? Do I go and get a real job or do you still want to play on the river?”

When we see someone like Michael Phelps, who’s done so much for so long, much like yourself, what is the nature of that sacrifice? How do you do something like that?

I think if you treat it as a sacrifice you could only do it for a short period of time; so it has to become a love, it has to become a passion. When people talk to me about my Olympic gold medals they want to talk about that moment; that moment of crossing the line; that moment of standing on the podium; that moment of your achievement. But actually what I look back on is the Olympiad — the four years of time between each games; is the preparation; is the hardships. That’s a hell of a lot of commitment to put in to say, “Yeah, it’s just that moment that you have that medal put around your neck,” or, “That moment as your bows go through the finishing line.”

I have found my passion, all I have to do is to get out and play on the river every day.

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